Cameroon Memoirs – Part I


Appointment Scheduling in OrgSync Forms

Since my last post on integrating your OrgSync calendar was an unexpected success, I thought I’d pass along another tip I’ve discovered recently.

One of the things my coworkers have wished they could do with OrgSync has to do with officer applications and interviews. Right now, OrgSync makes it really easy to make an application but if your process also involves interviews, there’s no way to have people schedule their interview time as part of their application.

Until now.

One of my favorite productivity tools is a site called Calendly. While they do have paid versions, I’ve found the free version to be more than sufficient for my current needs. If you’re looking for a way to get your applications and interview scheduling all in one place, this may be a solution for you!

There’s a few different ways to do this, but this is by far the best looking and most user-friendly experience of any service I’ve seen. If you get stuck on one of the steps below, go ahead and leave me a comment at the bottom of the page. I’ll respond and try to help as much as I can!

What you’ll need:

  • A Google account (any gmail account works perfectly, though if you’re on a campus that uses google apps you can use that account as well!)
  • Ability to make/edit forms on OrgSync
  • About 30 minutes (though if you’re mildly tech savvy you may be able to do this quicker)
  • I’ll provide the code you’ll need, you’ll just need to replace the links with your own
Calendly Homepage
First thing you’re going to need to do is go to and click the green “Signup Free” button. This is where you will need to sign in with your Google account.
After you sign in and authorize it to use your google account, it will ask to verify your time zone and choose a Calendly URL. I chose my name and added my schools initials afterwards because I used my campus email (which is Google Apps enabled). Hit the blue “Confirm” button
Yay! Your account is created! Click on the box with your URL in the top right corner. This will bring up a dropdown menu. We’re going to configure your calendar connection first. Click on the “Calendar Connection” option in the dropdown menu.
At this point you should still be signed into your Google account, so when you click the “Calendar Connection” option its going to ask you to authorize to manage your calendars. What this will allow it to do is check for conflicts with events you’ve already scheduled AND post a calendar entry for you whenever someone schedules an appointment (we’ll get to that in the next step). Click the blue “Accept” button.
You will now see your currently connected calendar account. At the bottom there’s two options: Check google Calendar for Conflits” and “Add new events to Google Calendar.” You can select the calendars you want it monitor for conflicts and on the right it will allow you to select the calendar where it can create calendar entries. I have a calendar called “appointments” so I chose that. You can choose whatever calendar you want. When you’re done, click the blue “Save Changes” at the bottom center of the page.
It should take you back to your dashboard at this point. If not, its okay. Go up to the dropdown on the top right and select “Event Type Settings” this time.
Calendly automatically creates three different event types. I disabled all but the first one. This is the one we’ll edit for our interview times. Click the blue circle with “Edit” next to it on the top right of the event type.
I’ve changed the name from “15 Minute Interviews” to “Exec Team Interviews” and changed the Event Link and color. You can customize these to whatever you like
Right below this is the availability selector. This is very important. It’s set up to allow recurring appointments but I want to make it so that appointments are limited to the time and days I have scheduled.
For this example, I know my interviews will be held in 15 minute increments on Monday and Tuesday, February 23-24, 2015 from 3-5 PM. Click the edit button next to Monday and input the increment time and schedule. Because I know that my interviews will follow the same schedule the next day, click the “Apply to…” button and select “Monday and Tuesday”
Scrolling down, you’ll select the dates available to schedule. I know my interviews are going to be on the 23rd and 24th, so I select that date range. The options below allow you to add custom questions to when people schedule a time. The default is Name and email address. We won’t deal with custom questions links or email notifications for this tutorial but feel free to use them if you need them. Note that some of the options (like customized messaging and automated notifications will eventually require a paid subscription).
You can adjust any advanced settings here. I changed the minimum scheduling notice to 2 hours instead of 24.
I also turned off the schedule another event button. Make your adjustments and click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page.
Scroll back up to the top and click the blue “Copy event link” button. It will turn green when it’s copied. Open up your OrgSync Form/Application and we’ll get ready to embed your scheduling calendar at the bottom of the application. Keep this Calendly window open just in case you need to come back to it.

Here’s where the magic happens. At the bottom of your form, after all the questions and things you’ve already created add a new text block. Click the “Source button. Paste the link you copied from Calendly over any text in the box. Add an https:// before the beginning of the link. Press return twice to go to a new line.

Type the following code and paste it into the source box (wordpress won’t allow me to post HTML code snippets… sorry!). Be sure to add a space between where the line breaks are located:

code snippet


Your box should look something like this one below:

Now, highlight the link at the top cut/paste it to replace the INSERT LINK HERE” part of the code. It should now look something like this:

If you want to add any text above or below the scheduling box, simply type it before the beginning of the code and hit return to put the code on it’s own line (or at the end of the code on a new line). I would recommend adding text above the box explaining that the widget below is for scheduling an interview time and some text afterwards to tell them to click the green “continue” button to submit the form.

Hit the green DONE button. Look how pretty it is! If everything is right it should look something like this in the form editor:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.44.36 PM

The scheduler is fully responsive and will adjust beautifully to any size screen, including mobile. If you authorized Calendly to post to your calendar, it should automatically add any interviews scheduled to your google calendar. If that’s not working, you can log back into your calendly account and it will show any scheduled appointments. You can go back and adjust the interview times or slots if you need to add more or change it for a different interview process.


What do you think? Is this helpful to you? Questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Streamlining the Event Request Process: Part 1 – Project Overview

I’m a complete nerd for efficiency, to the point that it’s probably annoying to some people (sorry co-workers). I’ve been this way since I was a kid, just ask my parents.

Since I began my job as the Coordinator of Student Organizations at the University of Central Arkansas one process that has been occasionally frustrating has been the event registration process. Let me outline our current process for you:

  • If a student is registering a non-social event (such as a general meeting or service project) they simply create the event with their portal. There are no forms or approval required. If the want to share that event on the umbrella or community calendar an event approval request is sent to our office.
  • If the event being registered is a social event (such as a mixer or a party) than they must first email campus police for their approval and to make arrangements if an officer needs to be present. Then they fill out an event registration form (within the forms module in the umbrella) to register their event with our office. After submitting that form, they create an event with their organization’s portal and request to share it on the umbrella calendar so that our office receives a notification to look at the event within their portal.
  • Scheduling a space for either of the scenarios above is it’s own ordeal. If they want a room in the student center, the organization president or advisor must schedule the room online using the virtual EMS software. If they want to schedule any other space on campus, they need to track down and contact the building administrator for their approval. The conference center scheduling office has graciously helped to try and centralize the process in doing the contacting of building administrators for the students but that uses a different form on OrgSync.
As you can tell, our current process is a little convoluted and difficult to explain. There’s definitely room for improvement!

Just today, I sat through an eight-hour training/planning session to implement virtual EMS scheduling for all spaces on campus. I’m equally ecstatic and terrified about this because it will simplify and expedite the scheduling process for our student groups and give us a true centralized scheduling system but it is a significant change to the way the process has been operating. As anyone who has been through an operational change for anything knows, change, no matter how positive it is is not without it’s hiccups and opposition.

On the OrgSync side we will be changing things significantly as well. Last summer, when OrgSync rolled out their new user interface (which is seriously amazing) they made significant updates to the events management/request system. The way our current process is set up, the only time we use this tool is when a group requests their event to be shared on the umbrella or community calendar; all portal events are automatically approved. However, beginning sometime after spring break our office plans to flip the switch of a few settings which will change and simplify our process significantly:
  • All events that organizations create within their portal will require approval from the student life office instead of being automatically approved by the system.
  • When an organization goes to create an event they will be required to fill out a registration form for all events (not just social events). This form will be part of the event creation process and attached to the event itself, instead of being housed separately outside of the events module.
The form that an organization will be required to fill out will probably have a post (or two) of it’s own on this blog at a later date. Because there are other non-student groups housed within our umbrella, this form will need to have a quick way for any departments or non-student groups to finish the form, as they aren’t held to the same registration policies. However, for student groups the form will require significant amounts of logic in order to make sure that only questions pertinent to the particular event are being asked.

In the coming days I will be sitting down with our GA (who helps manage our student organization events) and we’ll be mapping out logic we will need on the form to deal with every scenario we can think of. From that point we will build out the form (using our current form as a rough base) and test the logic.

As this project evolves and moves forward, I’ll post more updates! I know many campuses use the virtual EMS software so hopefully we’ll be able to help provide some ideas on how we develop how we plan on trying to integrate that into our process as seamlessly as possible.

What has been your experience? Have you been through a similar process? Share your campus process in the comments below!

Quick Tip: Calls to Action on your Facebook Pages

Facebook has just rolled out a small but nice update for pages, allowing you to have a call to action button on your cover photo.

The photo above is a screenshot of the Facebook page for my campus’s spirit group. As you can see, on the right side of the cover photo there is a button that says “Sign Up.” This is the call to action button. In this case, it links directly to the organization’s sign-up form on OrgSync that will allow current students to sign up and pay their dues all online.

If you haven’t already set up a call to action box on your organization’s page, you should see a box like the one in the image below that says “Create Call-to-Action” Go ahead and click that
A window like the one above should pop up. The only choices that are really pertinent to organizations would be the “Sign Up” and “Contact Us.” For this particular page, I chose the “Contact Us” option. After you’ve chose your button, copy the link to the page where you want the button send   the user. I would leave the mobile website box empty, unless you have a specific mobile only site. Click the blue “Next” button.
 Leave the “website” option in the dropdown for iOS Destination and click “Next”
Do the same for Android and click “Create.” Your call-to-action button has been placed on your page! Easy eh?

Embedding your OrgSync Calendar/Events List to a Facebook Page

One of the most frustrating things for anyone who helps manage student groups is finding a way to centralize your calendars. Often, your campus website will have one calendar but scheduling and your student website may have another. While it may not be possible to eliminate having to put your events into one exclusive calendar, you can make it so you have less to update.

If you’re reading this post, your probably already using OrgSync on your campus for your student organizations. If you (or any organization) are using the Events module in OrgSync you can have this calendar feed to multiple locations, so that as you update details, times and locations within OrgSync it will auto-update the calendar in other locations.

Placing your Calendar as a Tab on your Organizations Facebook Page

In new browser window or tab, open Facebook and search for “Static HTML: iframe tabs” at the top
(or simply click here)
Click the big blue button that says “Add Static HTML to a Page
Select your organization’s page from the drop down menu and then click the “Add Page to Tab” button
After you add the app to your page, you will be redirected to your personal timeline. Navigate to your organization’s Facebook page on the left side menu. Your page should look something like the one above.
Hover over the “More” menu option and click “Manage Tabs”
The “Welcome” app should be at the bottom of your list. Simply click and drag it to the top of your list underneath the “about” tab. Then click the “Add or Remove Tabs” link at the bottom.
This page will show you any apps installed on your page. If you have the “events” app added to your page, I would recommend that you click the “x” and remove it from your page. This will keep your page from being confusing with two different apps for events. Click the “Edit Settings” link on the Static HTML: iframe tabs app.
The custom Tab Name should be blank. Enter what you would like the tab to be called. I recommend “Upcoming Events”. Click the blue “Save” button and then the blue “OK” button. Navigate back to your organization’s page by clicking “Page” in the upper left corner.
Huzzah! The new events app is now correctly placed and titled on your page. Now you just need to add the embedded OrgSync calendar!
Click on “Upcoming Events” and then the green “Edit tab” button. Keep this window/tab open for the moment.
In a new browser window/tab, navigate to your organization’s calendar module. Click the “Subscribe” button on the left hand side.
In the window that pops up, copy the embed code from the bottom box. Navigate back to the Facebook window/tab you left open in the previous step.
Paste the embed code you copied from OrgSync in the large “index.html” box and click the blue “Save & Publish” link and then the “Done editing” button on the upper left-hand corner.

(note, if you want your calendar to default to the events list view rather than the calendar view, add ?view=upcoming at the  end of the URL in the embed code. For example … /calendar/iframe?view=upcoming)

Guess what?
You’re done! Congrats! Now your OrgSync calendars are embedded on your Facebook page! If you kept it as the calendar view, your tab should look something like the first image below. If you added the code snippet to make it show the events list view, it should look like the second image below.

One important thing to remember is that for any events to show up, you must set their visibility to “Public + Website” when you create them within OrgSync.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below! There will be more helpful ways to integrate OrgSync into existing campus systems soon, so be sure to follow!

Where were you?

Few memories are engraved in my mind like those of September 11, 2001. I’m sure anyone around my age and older probably had a similar experience to mine. It’s one of those collective consciousness things that instantly united us in grief as friends, family strangers and humans.

It was a normal morning. As I was getting ready for school we had the television on good morning america. By this time, the first plane had already hit and the news was covering the event. It was tragic, but wasn’t personal yet. It was interesting to a 7th grader who tried to learn more and more about the world around him. I sat down for a moment on my parents bed to watch the coverage a little more. It was a live shot from a helicopter of the smoke coming out of the first tower.
Then there was this shadowy object that cut across the screen and into the other tower. A fireball erupted. The news anchors went speechless.
I gasped and yelled for my mom to come over and watch with me. Something changed in me at that moment. As a 12 year old, a rush of feelings came over me which I couldn’t fully understand at the time. That moment was a loss of innocence for me; a time when my carefree childhood whims were replaced with confusion, anger and fear. What would happen in the future? Would we be going to war? I had learned about Pearl Harbor in my classes before, but would this escalate into a world-wide conflict? Would they bring back the draft? Would my older brother (and eventually myself as well) end up having to go and fight to defend the country?
I tried to focus at school that day. Surely it couldn’t get any worse than it had. Teachers didn’t talk much about what was happening. I don’t think it was because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t know what to say. What do you tell a bunch of young adolescents who are cognizant of what is happening but who are also scared children on the inside?
Eventually word got around that something had happened at the pentagon and that another plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Four planes. Four planes filled with people who were all now deceased. I was trying so hard to wrap my head around the question of why. I’m sure everyone was. Why would someone do something so evil? Why would you ever hate someone/something so much that you would claim thousands of innocent lives in such a way?
School eventually ended and I made it home on the bus. I got home, hugged my mom and turned on the TV to find that every single channel was streaming the news. Disney, Nickelodeon, MTV, everyone had pulled their programming to cover this story. For hours i watched, trying to answer those questions of why in my heart even though new information was scare to find.
I still don’t think I can put into words exactly the feelings I felt that day 13 years ago. I wish it had never happened. I’ve often wondered how my later childhood/adolescence would have been different had none of it ever happened. I can’t even imagine the pain felt by those who lost loved ones on that day.
As a country, I think we’ve mostly healed from the big wounds inflicted on our collective psyche. But we haven’t healed all the way. I will never ever forget the incredible unity our country had in the weeks and months following 9/11. I wish we as a country could have that again today, though I would never want it to be initiated by such a tragedy ever again.
A few years later, when I was a junior in High School I finally obtained some closure to the confusion, anger and sadness I felt back in 2001. Our choir was accepted into a prestigious competition and was invited to sing in Carnegie Hall in NYC. That experience was incredible and I will never forget it, but one memory that sticks out in my mind was going to Ground Zero one evening after sundown with a medium sized group. I finally saw and could start to comprehend the scale of everything. As we walked around the sidewalk with its tall construction fence, we found a spot where we could gather and see this view:

And then something beautiful happened: we broke out into song, singing John Rutter’s moving arrangement of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” I don’t think it was the greatest performance our choir group ever did pitch-wise, trying to compete with the incessant noise of NYC streets, but I think it was the most heartfelt performance we’d ever done. Pedestrians stopped and watched us as we sang the short melody. It was closure for all of us really. We couldn’t do anything to help console the pain people were feeling on the other end of the country five years earlier. This song, five years later, performed at the site where so much grief had been borne by a group of kids from Utah who had never set foot in NYC was our way of getting closure from that piece of innocence taken from us five years earlier.
I will never forget it.